An Aesthetic Trip to Haifa
Haifa is a beautiful city regardless of where you go because it is situated on the Carmel mountain range and offers a view of the ‘Haifa Bay’ from several points. Nevertheless, as this is my first post in Haifa, I had to include the crown jewel, the Baha’i Gardens and Golden Dome which are one of the most beautiful places in Israel. In this trip I assembled a number of particularly aesthetic locations with which I hoped to achieve a singularly pleasing effect.
Trip Agenda Options:
Baha’i Gardens and Golden Dome
Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art
Hermann Struck Museum
Haifa Educational Zoo
The Baha’i Faith is a religion originating from Persia in the mid-19th century preaching for the unity of G-d, religion and mankind. As new faiths are not easily accepted, the authorities in Persia exiled the second founding Prophet Bahá'u'lláh. Further to his continued preaching he was sent to the Akko prison by the Sultan in Constantinople. Following his release, he settled in Bahji, a place near Akko where he wrote most of his religious scriptures. Following his demise, the central governing institution of the Baha’i faith was established in Haifa. The Golden Dome in Haifa is the shrine of the first Prophet Báb whereas the Prophet Bahá'u'lláh’s burial place is in Bahji, near Akko.
I opened with this explanation of how the Baha’i faith came to be located in Israel. The Baha’i religion is a peace-loving faith believing in the harmony of nature and have endowed both Haifa and Akko with two lovely places of worship for which I personally am grateful. Both are locations of exquisite beauty.
The tour of the Baha’i Garden and Golden Dome in Haifa is free of charge due to the generosity and support of the Baha’i believers. The tour takes place at established hours without reservation. It includes a more detailed explanation of the history, practices and principles of the faith. Please note that the tour includes a walk down 700 steps so it isn’t accessible to strollers etc. and you need to take a bus/taxi back to the starting point in case you came by car like me. Also, if you wish to enter the Golden Dome you need to arrive earlier before the guided tour starts because it is open daily between 9:00-12:00. Also note, that the entrance to the tour is on 45 Yefe Nof St., but there is also a viewpoint for photography on 61 Yefe Nof St.
This garden is less known and is located within 5 minutes of driving from the Baha’i gardens. I consider it a must-see because it is so charming. It has 29 bronze statues and a lovely view of the Haifa Bay area allowing for a very beautiful photoshoot, especially with children. I actually visited it before the Baha’i Garden because I wished to visit as many places as possible and it fit the schedule of opening hours. However, even if you decide to rearrange the order of visits, I suggest you keep in mind arriving during daylight for optimal photography.
The walk down the street of Yefe Nof, from which you enter the Baha’i Gardens is the promenade, which was built in order to provide a nice view of the bay. Just behind the 61 Yefe Nof St. Baha’i viewpoint, there is a playground with a cannon and obelisk. The cannon commemorates the British capture of Haifa from the Ottoman empire in 1918 (WWI) and the Obelisk commemorates the historic visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1898, the one whom Theodore Hertzl met in order to discuss a Jewish State. The Kaiser came to overlook the German Colony in Haifa from where the obelisk stands.
If you continue driving/walking up Yefe Nof St. to No. 89, you’ll arrive at a junction of trip activities. If you have younger children, I suggest you take them to the zoo as the afternoon activity. When walking, just after the Dan Panorama, you turn on ‘Shaar Halevanon St’ in order to reach the parallel street ‘Shderot Hanassi’. Once there, you cross ‘Shderot Hanassi’ and you’re at the ‘Gan HaEm’ garden where the entrance to the zoo is located. I didn’t visit the zoo this time but it’s a very nice one.
The alternative is to continue with a visit to the city “museums” that I’ve chosen, which are more art galleries than museums. The city of Haifa has a combination ticket deal which offers a discount price for entry into six specific museums. Going to two will cover the price of the combination and the ticket is valid for a week so in general it’s worth it. I had time for three and chose the unique looking ones. Two are in the immediate vicinity and one is further away, on the way down the mountain to Tel-Aviv.
The Mané-Katz Museum is at Yefe Nof no. 89. I chose it because the museum is located in the artist’s house and workshop. However, I was slightly disappointed to see that only the exterior had been preserved. Aside from the artist’s collection, the museum has changing exhibitions and not less importantly has a spacious café with a terrific view of the bay. The current exhibition is entitled ‘Chana Orloff: Feminist Sculpture in Israel’.
Located on ‘Shderot Hanassi No. 89’, the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, was founded in 1959 by an art collector called Felix Tikotin in collaboration with the then mayor of Haifa Abba Hushi. Aside from his private collection of over 7,000 original Japanese artworks from mostly the 14th-19th centuries, which are displayed from time to time, the museum presents changing exhibitions and serves as an educational center of activity with films, lectures and workshops. The exhibition that I saw was called “Battle Kites from Japan” and I enjoyed the documentary film about Mr. Tikotin.
This museum is further down the mountain on 23 Arlozorov St. It is also housed in the painter’s original house, but also disappointingly did not retain the original room decor. It features both his original works as well as changing exhibitions. The current exhibition is entitled ‘Berlin, City of Lights: Between the Two World Wars’ and ‘Shahar Marcus: Self Print’.
The great thing about this trip is that you barely have to move your car although in general there is sufficient parking space in the city. There are a number of restaurants and cafés on Yefe Nof St. so without further ado, you can choose from the following: ‘El Gaucho’, ‘Confit’, 'Georgia' and ‘107 Brasserie’ or from the parallel street ‘Shderot Hanassi’: ‘Japanika’, ‘Giraffe Asian Food’, ‘Gal’s Bakery’, ‘The Kosher Chinese’, ‘Café Café Carmel’, ‘Ruben’, ‘Meat’, ‘Mandarin’, ‘Sleek Bar and Restaurant’ and ‘Elkheir Druze Cuisine’.
There are quite a few hotels nearby because the location is on the top of the mountain and offers views of the bay. Options on Yefe Nof St. include: ‘Crowne Plaza Hotel Haifa’ and ‘Dan Gardens Haifa’.
The options above are supposed to fill an active day from morning to night based on your choices. I’ve suggested a few combinations depending on your interests.
This is what it looks like on the map:
I think I’ll be visiting there again this week in order to cover the rest of the museums in my combination ticket so I’ll be writing up another trip suggestion soon, which will give you more opportunities if you wish to stay overnight.
Have you heard about the Baha’i faith before? Is there anything interesting you can tell us about it?
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